Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Vegan MoFo #22: Baighan Bharta with Lentils and Saffron Rice

Maybe I shouldn't really call this baighan bharta, since the traditional recipe doesn't include lentils; then again, it does often include a shocking quantity of ghee, which I don't, so maybe it all balances out in the end. In any case, here is another Indian dish featuring eggplant in a rich, filling stew to be eaten with or over rice. Since I was making it for a main course, the lentils were tossed in for protein; I cooked them separately, then added them to the almost finished product so they'd retain some texture. This recipe is pretty mild in terms of seasonings, but we tend to eat a lot of hot pickle with our Indian food, which more than makes up for it; you could certainly throw in some cayenne or other heat source if you want it spicier, though. The saffron rice is a fairly basic rendition, to which any number of things can be added: raisins, slivered nuts, peas, finely chopped carrots, you name it. I kept it simple here because there was a lot of other stuff going on with the stew, and we had aloo gobi on the side as well, but go ahead and get as crazy with it as you like!

Baighan Bharta with Lentils
~ 1 tbsp. hot mustard oil
~ ½ tsp. each: cumin seeds, black mustard seeds
~ 1 tbsp. garlic
~ 1 tbsp. ginger
~ 3 cups chopped onion
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, cumin, garam masala, curry powder, fenugreek
~ ½ tsp. each: coriander, turmeric, chili powder
~ 3 cups roasted, mashed eggplant
~ 1 15 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes
~ ½ cup frozen green peas

~ 1 cup green or brown lentils, cooked for 30-40 minutes in 2.5 cups vegetable stock, until the liquid is completely absorbed.

~ In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil and cook the cumin and mustard seeds over medium-high heat, until they begin to sizzle and pop.
~ Add the onions, garlic and ginger, stir to combine, and cook another 5-10 minutes until the onions start to brown, adding a splash of water if necessary to prevent sticking.
~ Add the remaining seasonings, eggplant and drained tomato. Mix thoroughly, then lower the heat, cover, and cook about 10 minutes more.
~ Remove the cover, add the frozen peas and cooked lentils, stir to combine.
~ Raise the heat to medium and cook another 5 minutes or so, until the peas are bright green.
~ Serve hot over...

Saffron Rice
~ 2 tbsp. Earth Balance (or oil; I just like EB here)
~ 1 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 4 scallions, thinly sliced
~ 1.5 cups jasmine or basmati rice
~ 3 cups vegetable broth
~ 5-6 saffron threads
~ 1 tsp. salt
~ ½ tsp. cardamom
~ 1 cinnamon stick
~ A few grinds of black pepper

~ Heat the broth to nearly boiling; add the saffron threads and cover for 10 minutes.
~ Melt the Earth Balance in a heavy-bottomed saucepan; add the garlic and scallions and sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes.
~ Add the rice, salt, cardamom and cinnamon stick; cook for another minute or two, until the rice is completely coated.
~ Pour in the saffron/broth mixture and return to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed.
~ Remove the cinnamon stick, fluff with a fork and serve.


  1. Oh god that looks and sounds sooooo good!

  2. I am finding it impossible to comment on all the MoFo blogs, but I am reading and loving your posts - and I have flagged several things for future cooking, esp Indian food and those amazing vegetable pies!

  3. I really have to go shopping for some Indian spices... so many great recipes are popping up... I can feel the heart burn already but I don't care!! YUM!